asks Andrew Sullivan in a post titled "The Gun Closet," "why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they own one?"
Am I missing some subtle argument here? Taking the question at face value, the answer is so obvious that it's hard to see what the force of the question might be.
Let's begin with the apparent referent of "The Gun Closet." Andrew Sullivan, I take it, believes that sexual autonomy rights are civil rights, but surely no-one would respond to a newspaper's publishing the names of known homosexuals with "If [sexual autonomy] rights are civil rights, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they [exercise them]?"
The answer is obvious: People who exercise their civil rights sometimes face discrimination or ostracism, at least in certain circles, if the exercise of the rights were to become known. That's why some people feel the need to hide the fact that they are gay. (Maybe they would nonetheless benefit in the long term from coming out of the closet, and maybe society would be better off as a result; but we'd think it strange to ask why they'd feel the need to stay in the closet.)
Likewise as to abortion rights, rights to use contraceptives, rights to speak anonymously, and the like. And likewise as to gun rights: In certain circles, owning a gun, or having a licensed to carry a gun concealed, is frowned on, and may lead to various social and professional repercussions. Perhaps such information should nonetheless be a matter of public record for various reasons, even if information about one's sexual autonomy or abortion history is not. But such an argument would have little to do with whether gun rights are civil rights; one may want to keep private the exercise of one's civil rights at least as much as one wants to keep private other behavior.
Am I missing something? Is there some deep irony -- or deep insight -- to "If gun rights are civil rights, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they own one?" that I'm not grasping?
Thanks to InstaPundit, who has more to say on the subject.
Related Posts (on one page):
- The Dangers of Newspapers Publishing the Names and Addresses of Citizens with Handgun Permits:
- "If Gun Rights Are Civil Rights,"